Animation Magazine

Bird in the Peninsula

- Directed by Atsushi Wada (Japan/France)

Acclaimed Japanese director Atsushi Wada’s new film Bird in the Peninsula follows a group of boys who are taking part in a traditiona­l ceremony of initiation into adulthood — but, when one boy chases after a strange bird, a young girl follows him. The director, whose previous acclaimed shorts include The Mechanism of Spring and The Great Rabbit, says he started thinking about this short about 10 years ago when he watched a documentar­y on TV. “It showed a scene of a traditiona­l ritual practiced by children in a village in Japan in older times, and I was really impressed by the fact that the children didn’t seem to be enjoying the practice so much, so I started thinking about making a story about the ritual.”

Wada, who used Adobe Photoshop, After Effects and Premiere Pro to make his latest short, says two of his favorite scenes feature the main character stroking the feathers on a bird’s neck, and when he peels a tangerine for a dog. “What both of these have in common is that they are movements that I simply wanted to draw, regardless of whether or not they are deeply related to the story,” he admits.“It is important for me to draw the movements that I feel comfortabl­e with before I think about the story. These movements come first, and then I think of a story based on them. It is when I combine such movements to form a narrative that I find the most joy.” He adds, “Once I have an image of the work in my mind, all I have to do is to realize it, which is tough work for most of the process. I could say it’s even painful!”

When asked about his favorite animated shorts of all time, Wada mentions the works of Ukrainian master Igor Kovalyov (Milch, Flying Nansen, Before Love). “His works taught me how to give shape to an idea and the importance of editing,” he points out.

Wada also hopes audiences will surrender to the original charms of his latest short. “I took my time and put a lot of thought into making this film, so I hope you will surrender yourself to it and feel a lot of things from it,” says the 41-year-old artist. We have a feeling that his wish will certainly be fulfilled.

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